Saturday, August 06, 2016

Threatening Days Under a Leaden Sky


There are many places in the country that quickly cover the tracks of the past.  The effects of annual rains or growth and regrowth of nature quickly hide and dismantle the evidence of what used to be.  Quickly it seems that old logging roads are forever gone, interurban lines tilled into farmland, and schoolhouses dismantled by nature growing from within.  

There are places, however, where the rains fall more slowly and arid lands make tilling more difficult.  These are places where symbols of eras past still cling - "reminders of the glory, the mystery, the sadness of life." [1]  Under leaden skies, the past meets the present in Three Forks, MT.  The station reposes as it has for almost a century, but now next to the blowing grasses of a dry open field and not the waiting presence of boxcab helpers for a push over the nearby Rockies.  



Nearby the Sacajawea Inn stands, still beckoning travelers who seek the mysteries of the West.



Three Forks in 2003 still claimed a weekly newspaper, in operation since near the time of the Milwaukee's arrival in 1908.  The Christmas decorations still hang in the window, despite the overcast day in the middle of June.



The main street itself still shows the marks of a Western town with a width that belies the original intent: space to turn a horse and wagon.


Two transcontinentals served the small town of Three Forks, today one is gone forever and the other lays dormant, probably never to see traffic across Homestake Pass again.  In the arid West, however, the paths of these great beasts still lay about for wanderers to seek.

1) Gray, Zane. "The Last of the Plainsmen" 1908